A WEE COUNTY woman who flew out to Brussels last month as part of a volunteering project has said it has given her a renewed resolve to boost community spirit back home.

May Barker flew out to Belgium at the end of March to share her experience of living in the Hillfoots for over 50 years and to discuss the impact that volunteering can have on bringing communities together.

The 76-year-old, who lives on Tillicoultry’s Chapelle Crescent, was working with Volunteer Scotland as part of the Get Connected – Volunteering and Shared Values project.

Together with delegates from Ireland, Croatia and Belgium, May shared her experience at a conference and said it has helped rejuvenate her belief in making Chapelle Crescent a better place for everyone to live.

May said: “It was interesting to hear how volunteering is making an impact in communities across Europe. We’re all trying to achieve the same thing really, to make our areas a better place to live and to boost community spirit. That’s something that we are working hard to revive in Chapelle.”

Now back in the Wee County, May is keen to press ahead with the residents’ group’s plans to improve the housing scheme where she has lived for over five decades.

She said: “One of our top priorities is to improve the look of Chapelle, so people feel proud of where they live, and attract more families to the area. We’re also planning a fun day this summer for everyone to enjoy.”

Volunteer Scotland have been working closely with Chapelle Crescent residents for the past year.

George Thomson, chief executive of Volunteer Scotland said: “Back in March 2018, Volunteer Scotland held one of its first CommUnity Bubble events in Tillicoultry. Out of this event emerged a group of 5 dedicated residents from Chapelle Crescent who were prepared to volunteer their time to try and bring their community back together again.

“This group of five soon grew into a group of 10. I was lucky enough to observe for myself the magic of that group coming together, with their community passion and their friendly banter, and their strong desire to bring their neighbourhood together and build community spirit.

“One of my favourite moments with May was when she told me a story of how she and her pal had visited an elderly sick neighbour wearing rubber gloves and wielding brillo pads, stating their intention was to give him a bed bath.

“She said it certainly broke the ice and helped to overcome the awkwardness of how to show support and compassion in difficult circumstances.”